Detecting students-at-risk in computer programming classes with learning analytics from students’ digital footprints

David Azcona, I. Han Hsiao, Alan F. Smeaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Different sources of data about students, ranging from static demographics to dynamic behavior logs, can be harnessed from a variety sources at Higher Education Institutions. Combining these assembles a rich digital footprint for students, which can enable institutions to better understand student behaviour and to better prepare for guiding students towards reaching their academic potential. This paper presents a new research methodology to automatically detect students “at-risk” of failing an assignment in computer programming modules (courses) and to simultaneously support adaptive feedback. By leveraging historical student data, we built predictive models using students’ offline (static) information including student characteristics and demographics, and online (dynamic) resources using programming and behaviour activity logs. Predictions are generated weekly during semester. Overall, the predictive and personalised feedback helped to reduce the gap between the lower and higher-performing students. Furthermore, students praised the prediction and the personalised feedback, conveying strong recommendations for future students to use the system. We also found that students who followed their personalised guidance and recommendations performed better in examinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-788
Number of pages30
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Computer Science Education
  • Educational data mining
  • Learning analytics
  • Machine learning
  • Peer learning
  • Predictive modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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